Many people in the LGBT community worry about how they express themselves at work, for fear of being discriminated against. They may not want to reveal certain aspects of their personality, from the way that they like to talk to the way that they like to dress. The truth is that we all have the right to be ourselves in the employment environment. Feeling that we need to hide who we truly are to fit in will only lead to poor job satisfaction and performance.
If you are worried about your managers or coworkers learning about your sexual orientation, you should take the time to learn about the laws in place to protect you. In New Jersey, there are laws in place that prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
What is sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity discrimination?
Discrimination in the workplace is broadly defined as any type of negative action taken by a manager or another worker based on a specific characteristic. For example, if you are transgender and you believe that your manager has reduced the hours you work after learning about your gender identity, this could be an instance of gender identity discrimination if they are causally linked.
Similarly, if you believe that you were the most skilled and qualified person for a job but you were asked about your sexual orientation at the interview and you believe that you were not offered the job because you are gay, this could be an example of sexual orientation discrimination.
Can I be a victim of sexual orientation discrimination because of the way I was perceived?
In theory, a person can be a victim of sexual orientation discrimination regardless of whether their sexual orientation was perceived accurately. For example, if a manager perceives an employee to be gay because of the way they behave and discriminates against them as a result of this perception, the employee could file a discrimination claim, even if they are not gay.
It’s important to exercise your right to be yourself in the workplace. Make sure that you are aware of the motives behind the way you are treated at work. Try to record any discriminatory experiences you have in writing so that you can accurately recall them at a later date.